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Musical London

Music posters

London is rich in history, culture and entertainment. A key attraction for visitors is the diverse music scene offered by the city’s theatres, opera houses, music halls, entertainment venues and street musicians.  

This gallery, Musical London, shows how Londoners have experienced and enjoyed the city’s music over time. It reveals the important role music has played, and continues to play, in London’s transport imagery. 

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You can also purchase print-to-order copies of posters from our online shop - just click Visit our Poster Shop from any poster collection record.

 Poster; Hearing the riches of London, by Frederick Charles Herrick, 1927

Hearing the riches of London, Frederick Charles Herrick, 1927

Women became an important consumer audience in the twentieth century. This poster, from a series exploring London through the senses, looks like a Vogue magazine cover. It was designed to appeal to modern, stylish young women and invites them to enjoy the rich sounds of the city.

Poster; London at its brightest, unknown, 1934

London at its brightest, Artist unknown, 1934

In 1933 the newly formed London Transport took over responsibility for all public transport services. Posters like this one began to promote concerts and cabarets more widely, to encourage travel to the city in the evenings and weekends.

Poster; Pantomimes, plays and pictures, by Charles Atkinson, 1933

Pantomimes, plays and pictures, Charles Atkinson, 1933

This poster promoted traditional annual pantomimes and plays. In 1933, you could see Dick Whittington at the London Hippodrome, or the Queen of Hearts at the Lyceum, complete with a real tumbling palace of cards. The airbrush technique used by this artist was very new at the time.

Poster; There and back, by Harold Sandys Williamson, 1928

There and back, Harold Sandys Williamson, 1928

Here Williamson has created a vibrant music hall scene. The lines created by outstretched arms and legs convey the motion of the dancers and conductor. The dancers seem to draw us into the poster, inviting us to join in.

Poster; Jingle Bells, unknown, 1980

Jingle bells, Artist unknown, 1980

In this poster, the well-known Christmas song Jingle bells has been adapted to promote London Transport’s seasonal travel perks. Musical notes have been replaced by jolly red roundels, encouraging Christmas shoppers to use public transport and save money.

Poster; To the concert halls, by Aubrey Lindsay Hammond, 1925

To the concert halls, Aubrey Lindsay Hammond, 1925

Hammond has used a limited colour palette in a style that is reminiscent of Japanese wood block printing. The composition is also influenced by his work as a stage and theatre designer.

Poster; Music in London, by Hans Unger and Eberhard Schulze, 1964

Music in London, Hans Unger and Eberhard Schulze, 1964

This collaborative poster, promoting the rich repertoire on offer at London’s concert halls, is by mosaic artists, Unger and Schulze. Brahms plays the piano while the busts of Beethoven and Bach look on. The English composer Benjamin Britten peers down from above.

Poster; At the Proms; humours no.9, by Tony Sarg, 1913

At the proms, Tony Sarg, 1913

This poster is No. 9 in a series of delightful ‘Humours’ by Sarg, highlighting different activities around London. The Proms are a long-established celebration of musical performance. In 1913 audiences enjoyed symphonies by Ludwig Van Beethoven, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Richard Wagner.

Poster; Save on a show with your season ticket, Brian Grimwood, 1980

Save on a show with your season ticket, Artist unknown, 1980

In 1980 London Transport produced a series of posters telling commuters they could save money on travel by purchasing a season ticket. These tickets were used to promote the wide variety of musical performances and venues that the city had to offer.

Poster; Underground - For the Sunday Concerts, by Fred Taylor, 1912

Underground - for the Sunday concerts, Fred Taylor, 1912

Passengers were encouraged to use the Underground for weekend leisure activities as well as travelling to work. This poster promoted orchestral concerts held on Sundays. Taylor’s elegant poster depicts Queen’s Hall in Westminster.

Poster; Bands in the park, by Ronald Glendening, 1973

Bands in the park, Ronald Glendening, 1973

Commissioned poster art was viewed as an irrelevant luxury in the 1970s. Glendening’s colourful depiction of a brass band is a rare example. At this time, free music in London’s parks was still regularly enjoyed by Londoners and visitors alike.

Poster; Going to the Notting Hill Carnival, unknown, 2000

Going to the Notting Hill Carnival?, Artist unknown, 2000

The Notting Hill Carnival is an annual celebration of Caribbean culture enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people. It brings together diverse communities through artistic, creative and musical street performance. Managing the huge crowds presents a big challenge for TfL.

Poster; West End entertainments, by Su Huntley and Donna Muir, 1987

West End entertainments, Su Huntley and Donna Muir, 1987

This lively poster by Huntley and Muir shows the many competing forms of entertainment to be enjoyed in the West End. Cinema, bars and live music are popular pursuits alongside long-standing and diverse theatre performances.

Poster; The musician travels Underground, by Charles Pears, 1930

The musician travels Underground, Charles Pears, 1930

This poster is one of a series of four designed by Pears. The others featured the student, film-lover and playgoer. It is stylistically very different to his seascapes and countryside views. The Queen’s Hall in the background was destroyed by a bomb in the Second World War.

Poster; The bright lights of the West End, by Ronald Glendening, 1957

The bright lights of the West End, Ronald Glendening, 1957

Here we see a lively West End scene. The post-war years saw this part of the city buzzing with new street life, restaurants and jazz clubs. People were encouraged to enjoy the nightlife as the Underground ran until after midnight on weekdays.

Poster; To the theatre, by Hans Unger, 1959

To the theatre, Hans Unger, 1959

In this picture Unger has turned his attention to the audience rather than the stage. Painted in a more abstract style, it is reminiscent of the work of nineteenth century French Impressionists.

Poster; The theatre is your looking glass; masks, by Charles Shepard, 1927

The theatre is your looking glass, Charles Shepard, 1927

Shepard uses Greek and Roman style theatre masks in this design. They offer comic, satyr and tragic expressions. The poster encourages the audience to see themselves through the characters. Shepard also designed an attractive border for the 1946 version of Beck’s Tube map.

Poster; Underground; theatres, by Verney L Danvers, 1926

Underground, Verney L Danvers, 1926

Theatres in the 1920s had to compete with the rapidly improving technology of radio. The BBC began broadcasting in 1922 and the Underground responded by luring audiences in with sophisticated and striking advertising, like this poster by Danvers.

Poster; Just because youve finished work it doesnt mean its curtains for your travelcard, by Trevor Caley, 1986

Just because you've finished work it doesn't mean it's curtains for your travelcard, Trevor Caley, 1986

Caley, a mixed media artist who specialises in mosaics, has cleverly integrated the iconic roundel as a spotlight on the theatre curtain. 

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